Football

2013 Ballon d'Or nominees

Updated 0118 GMT (0918 HKT) October 30, 2013
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Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina)
CNN rating: Contender
Can anyone dethrone Messi? The Argentine has lifted the prize in each of the last four years and once again starred for Barcelona during the 2012-13 season as they romped to the Spanish title, scoring 46 goals during a victorious La Liga campaign.
JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images/file
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid & Portugal)
CNN rating: Contender
Ronaldo is bidding to win the award for the second time in his career and, although Real finished a distant second to Barca in La Liga and failed to win any silverware last season, the Portuguese's class ensures he is always a contender for top honors.
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain & Sweden)
CNN rating: Contender
Since arriving in Paris, the mercurial Sweden striker has become a symbol of PSG's new elite status. Ibrahimovic finished as the top goalscorer in France as PSG secured the league title. His penchant for scoring jaw-dropping goals, and his often outspoken approach, has made him a cult figure among football fans the world over.
JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images/file
Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich & France)
CNN rating: Contender
The 2012-13 season was the finest of Ribery's career to date, with the Frenchman one of the key players in a Bayern team which won the European Champions League, the Bundesliga and the German Cup. A number of Bayern players would be worthy recipients of the accolade, with Ribery's craft and guile making him a standout candidate.
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Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich & Netherlands)
CNN rating: Contender
The Dutch winger finally managed to shake off his tag as a player who chokes on the big stage by scoring a last-minute winner against Borussia Dortmund to crown Bayern champions of Europe. For this alone, Robben is in contention.
CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich & Germany)
CNN rating: Contender
Lahm was captain of the Bayern team which swept all before it last season. The Ballon d'Or would be testament to the German's calm, composed leadership of a team which etched its name in history.
Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images
Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich & Germany)
CNN rating: Contender
The Bayern youth academy graduate has forged a reputation as one of the world's most clinical finishers. Muller will hope to add the Ballon d'Or to the Golden Boot he won at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich & Germany)
CNN rating: Longshot
Bastian Schweinsteiger has long been a rock at the base of the Bayern midfield, but the playmaker looks likely to be outshone by his attacking teammates.
PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images/file
Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich & Germany)
CNN rating: Longshot
Neuer's class is unquestionable, however no goalkeeper has ever won the award. Neuer's contributions during the 2012-13 campaign, which included a standout performance in the Champions League final against Dortmund, will not be enough to lift him above Messi, Ronaldo et al in the final ballot.
CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund & Poland)
CNN rating: Longshot
The Polish striker was the spearhead of a Dortmund team which won plenty of admirers during its run to the Champions League final. Lewandowski's four-goal demolition of Real Madrid in the semifinals was a display of ruthless finishing, but he looks set to miss out in 2013.
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Andres Iniesta (Barcelona & Spain)
CNN rating: Longshot
Iniesta's pedigree and talent makes him one of the finest players on the planet, but the midfielder will likely suffer as a result of Barcelona's crushing defeat at the hands of Bayern in the Champions League semifinals.
David Ramos/Getty Images/file
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid & Wales)
CNN rating: Longshot
The world's most expensive player enjoyed the best season of his career so far with Tottenham Hotspur, prompting a money-spinning move to Real Madrid. The Welshman will likely miss out, however, having not played in Europe's top club competition last season.
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Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain & Uruguay)
CNN rating: No chance
Cavani is one of the world's most talented goalscorers with PSG forking out a reported $88 million to snare the Uruguayan away from Napoli last July. Time will tell whether a spell with one of Europe's top clubs will see Cavani challenging for major international honors in the future.
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Neymar (Barcelona & Brazil)
CNN rating: No chance
Neymar's goal in the recent El Clasico match between Barca and Real Madrid showed he is starting to settle in European football. A World Cup win in his homeland with Brazil could see Neymar mount a convincing challegne for the 2014 award.
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Xavi (Barcelona & Spain)
CNN rating: No chance
Xavi's list of accomplishments in the game, a World Cup winner, three Champions League triumphs and two European Championships, means he will always be regarded as an all-time great. Regrettably, at 33, the midfielder is battling persistent injury problems.
David Ramos/Getty Images/file
Luis Suarez (Liverpool & Uruguay)
CNN rating: No chance
Suarez's talent means he warrants a place on any list of the world's best footballers. Unfortunately his temperament often gets in the way. The Uruguayan has received lengthy bans for racism offenses and biting opponents.
LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP/Getty Images
Andrea Pirlo (Juventus & Italy)
CNN rating: No chance
A refined midfielder who oozes class, Pirlo would be a surprise winner after a campaign which saw Juve win the Italian title but fail to advance beyond the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images/file
Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain & Brazil)
CNN rating: No chance
The defender led Brazil to Confederations Cup success in 2013. If he can repeat the feat as captain of his country at next year's World Cup, he won't be far away from the 2014 honor.
Michael Regan/Getty Images/file
Robin van Persie (Manchester United & Netherlands)
CNN rating: No chance
The Dutchman's goals propelled United to the Premier League title in convincing fashion, but the Old Trafford club's failings in Europe meant he struggled to make an impact on the continent.
ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images
Yaya Toure (Manchester City & Ivory Coast)
CNN rating: No chance
The powerful midfielder endured a frustrating 2012-13 campaign with Manchester City. Toure saw his team finish 11 points behind neighbors United in the Premier League, lose the FA Cup final to lowly Wigan and fail to advance past the group stage of the Champions League.
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Radamel Falcao (Monaco & Colombia)
CNN rating: No chance
Falcao's goalscoring prowess helped Atletico Madrid to a Copa del Rey triumph and a place in this season's Champions League. A prolific campaign with Monaco and a good World Cup with Colombia would raise the forward's profile.
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Mesut Ozil (Arsenal & Germany)
CNN rating: No chance
Ozil has delighted Arsenal fans since swapping Real Madrid for London in August, but the German needs to lead the Gunners to glory if he is to challenge for individual honors.
GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
Eden Hazard (Chelsea & Belgium)
CNN rating: No chance
Helping Chelsea win the 2013 Europa League, Europe's second-tier club competition, won't be enough to see Hazard in the running.
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